Commentary

February 22, 2013

Fly Over: ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’, ‘Django Unchained’

In theaters:

A-Good-Day-to-Die-HArd

‘A Good Day to Die Hard’

Well, actually hard to die at all

Whenever someone lists of the greatest action movies of all time (and, in some cases, greatest Christmas movies of all time), the original “Die Hard” tends to be on that list and with good reason.
However, the sequels, to my understanding, have mainly been hit and miss, and I heard quite a few concerns from fans when this latest installment was announced. Unfortunately, after seeing “A Good Day to Die Hard” I realized that these fans had a right to be worried, though that does not mean this film is beyond any enjoyment.
When his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) is apparently arrested in Russia, detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) heads to the country to help. As it turns out, Jack is actually involved with the CIA in aiding a political prisoner named Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch) in providing incriminating evidence against a high-profile Russian official. John becomes caught up along with his son as the official’s men hunt them down.
Something that immediately bothered me was how the plot was set up in such a small amount of time. The plot is simple enough to grasp, “protect the guy the bad guy wants,” but the audience is thrown from Moscow to Washington D.C. and back to Moscow in a matter of thirty seconds in one instance.
Also, while there’s clearly an attempt to show the McClane boys rejuvenate their father-son relationship, it could have been touched on more. To the movie’s credit, there are also quite a few interesting twists the story takes, and after the plot is fully set up the film finds a decent pace.
Bruce Willis can always be John McClane; there really isn’t much of an argument there. Jai Courtney as Jack, however, gave some pretty shallow performances here and there, particularly when his character was supposed to be angry. Sebastian Koch, kind of a generic whistleblower for the first half, seems to grow into his role well.
Of all the new characters, however, I thought that Radivoje Bukvic was the most memorable as the villain’s lead henchman; there’s just something awesome about a goon who clearly loves what he does.
In action movies like “Die Hard,” it’s almost mandatory to suspend your disbelief, and “A Good Day to Die Hard” really pushes the limits. There are so many scenes in the film where I rolled my eyes and said “Right, he shouldn’t be getting up after that.” People who love over-the-top action would get a thrill out of it, but others might not.
There are quite a few characters that are introduced and yet have little to no backstory to them. As a whole, the writing was mediocre with some good lines here and there.
Many people will probably find the latest installment to the “Die Hard” franchise a disappointment. There are a few funny moments and neat action scenes to be entertaining, but it seemed like there could’ve been so much more to it.
This movie is rated R for violent scenes and language.

 
…..and also in theaters

Django-Unchained-movie-poster

‘Django Unchained’

Truthfully, before watching Django Unchained I thought it’d be just another western action movie, but it is unlike any film I’ve ever watched.
The movie begins with Django (Jamie Foxx) and several other male slaves chained together walking for miles after being bought at an auction. While walking in the middle of the night, they run into Dr. King Schultz (Christopher Waltz), a dentist from Germany, who inquires from where the slaves, which he refers to as specimens, were purchased. After going from slave to slave, Schultz finds the slave he’s been looking for, Django, a slave who has been separated from his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington).
Once identified, Schultz makes an offer to purchase him but the Speck brothers refuse and one points a rifle at Schultz. Schultz kills one brother and flings money at the other who is crushed under his horse after Schultz shoots it. The remaining slaves are left with a decision — to unchain themselves and either kill the remaining brother or help carry him to the nearest town. Schultz advises Django to take the other brother’s horse and jacket and they depart.
The next day they reach a town and the people of the town are shocked to see Django on a horse. Schultz asks Django why they are staring. Django says they’ve never seen a slave on a horse. Schultz makes the townspeople even angrier by bringing Django into a saloon where he reveals that he isn’t a dentist but a bounty hunter. He also tells Django he needs his help to identify two slave owners, the Brittle brothers. After the Brittle brothers are killed, Django will be a free man with a horse and $75. Django agrees and the two become an unstoppable team.
After finding the Brittle brothers and killing them, Schultz finds himself impressed with Django and offers him another deal. He propositions Django to partner with him until the snow melts in exchange for helping Django find and save his wife. The two most unlikely partners end up making it through winter and begin their search to find Broomhilda.
Overall, I have to say Waltz and Foxx do a very good job in portraying their characters. The acting made me want to favor Schultz for his kindness since he treated Django better than any other white person had. He treated him as an equal, and they made decisions together as a team.
The movie also captured most of the horrific realities of the United States in the 1800s showing some brutal scenes of how African-Americans were treated and punished.
Most of all, the movie was action-packed, and there was never a dull moment. I was constantly at the edge of my seat anticipating what would happen next. I couldn’t help but cheer for Django and his quest to find his wife and win his freedom.
Altogether, the movie is great for action seekers and those who love movies with the themes of true friendship and love.




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